Emas rethinks plans to close stations in Stamford, Oakham and Bourne

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Controversial plans to close ambulance stations and replace them with a regional hub and spoke model have been shelved.

East Midlands Ambulance Service, known as Emas, has decided to rethink its proposal to close the majority of its existing stations, including those in Stamford, Bourne and Oakham.

The trust’s board decided on Tuesday to come up with a new plan with a stronger focus on community ambulance stations, some of which would be shared with other emergency services.

A spokesman said although the plans to close the stations in Stamford, Bourne and Oakham had been scrapped for now, their future was still uncertain while the new plan was drawn up.

A proposal to create a new community ambulance station in Market Deeping has also been put on hold. A community station has already been created in Melton Mowbray.

According to a report to Tuesday’s board meeting, Emas currently has 67 ambulance stations, 50 of which it owns, 13 of which are leased and four which are disused.

Ambulances are not specific to their stations and the buildings are often empty, used only as rest points.

Emas chief executive Sue Noyes said the rethink would allow the trust to “deliver our vision for delivering the right care, with the right resource, in the right place, at the right time.”

She added: “Since pausing our estates plans in October 2013, we have talked with and listened to our staff colleagues, the public, our patients, and stakeholders across the East Midlands. We will continue to do this as we develop all of our strategies over the next few months to make sure they make sense forthe future.

“Being part of the communities we serve is very important to us.”

In November last year the Emas decided to pause its estates strategy to focus on improving response times. The service has often been criticised and fined for missing its targets.

Lincolnshire county councillor Sue Woolley, who represents the Bourne Abbey ward, previously raised concerns about possible gaps in coverage should Emas go ahead with its plan to close ambulance stations.

This week she said: “I know the public were concerned about the estates strategy and the proposed reconfiguration. I’m pleased Emas has decided to pause this piece of work and I hope they will continue to focus their efforts on improving response times across Lincolnshire.”

Emas hopes to present a final estates strategy at its 2015 board meeting.